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Audio Exposure Times:
How Loud and How Long?

One way that noise can permanently damage your hearing is by a single brief exposure to a high noise level, such as a firecracker going off near your ear. But hearing damage can also occur gradually at much lower levels of noise, if there is enough exposure over time. To protect your hearing, you’ll want to limit your exposure to these moderately high noise levels and give your ears a chance to recover after any period of noise exposure.

Exposure Time dB Sound
Instantaneous permanent damage 140+ Shotgun, rifle, jetplane takeoff
Less than one second 130 jackhammer, heavy industry
Less than ten seconds
Threshold of pain
120 Rock concert
1.5 minutes 110 Power tools, snowmobile
15 minutes 100 Chainsaw, motorcycle
2.5 hours 90 Lawn mower
8 hours 85 Beginning of Danger Zone
Prolonged exposure to noise levels 85dB and higher can result in permanent hearing loss. 80 City Traffic
70 Vacuum cleaner, hair dryer
60 Office, sewing machine
50 Normal conversation
40 Refrigerator
30 Whisper
20 Rustling leaves
Common noise levels (dB), and their effect upon hearing. 10 Breathing
0 Threshold of normal hearing

Source: Westone.com

If you or a loved one have experienced prolonged noise exposure and may be suffering from hearing loss, learn more about the signs and symptoms. 

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